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Database Searching

This LibGuide is meant to illustrate database structure and how to search databases according to their design. This LibGuide is meant to be directed toward searching Medical and Life Sciences databases.

AND

Use AND in a search to:

  • narrow your results
  • tell the database that ALL search terms must be present in the resulting records
  • example: aspirin AND children AND Reye's Syndrome

The triangle in the middle of the Venn diagram below represents the result set for this search. It is a small set using AND, the combination of all three search words.

Be aware:  In many, but not all, databases, the AND is implied. 

  • For example, Google automatically puts an AND in between your search terms.
  • Though all your search terms are included in the results, they may not be connected together in the way you want.
  • For example, this search:  college students test anxiety  is translated to:  college AND students AND test AND anxiety. The words may appear individually throughout the resulting records.
  • You can search using phrases to make your results more specific.
  • For example:  "college students" AND "test anxiety". This way, the phrases show up in the results as you expect them to be.

 

Using the Research Question & Boolean Operator AND

Example research question:

Are anti-vaping campaigns effective interventions for e-cigarette use among high school students?


A search needs to be done for each concept. You connect the terms, both subject headings and keywords within an individual concept, with OR. Below is how the separate searches are combined with AND to make a comprehensive search. The below search is based on a Medline database as it utilizes MeSH.

P = Population = High school students.

Adolescent [MeSH] OR Students [MeSH] OR Minors [MeSH] OR "high school student*" [ti/ab] OR adolescen* [ti/ab] OR minor [ti/ab] OR minors [ti/ab] OR teen* [ti/ab] OR youth* [ti/ab] 

P = Problem = e-cigarette (use).

Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems [MeSH] OR Vaping [MeSH] OR "e-cig*" [ti/ab] OR ecig* [ti/ab] OR "electronic cigarette*" [ti/ab] OR vape [ti/ab] OR vapes [ti/ab] OR vaping* [ti/ab] 

I = Intervention = Anti-vaping campaigns

Smoking Prevention [MeSH] OR Smoking Cessation [MeSH] OR "anti-smoking campaign*" [ti/ab] OR "antismoking campaign*" [ti/ab] OR "anti-vaping campaign*" [ti/ab] OR "antivaping campaign*" [ti/ab] OR "anti-smoking program*" [ti/ab]  OR "antismoking program*" [ti/ab]  OR "anti-vaping program*" [ti/ab] OR "antivaping program*" [ti/ab] OR "antivaping program*" [ti/ab] OR "smoking preven*" [ti/ab] OR "smoking cessat*" [ti/ab] "vaping preven*" OR [ti/ab] "vaping cessat*"OR [ti/ab]

How do we put it together with AND?

(Adolescent [MeSH] OR Students [MeSH] OR Minors [MeSH] OR "high school student*" [ti/ab] OR adolescen* [ti/ab] OR minor [ti/ab] OR minors [ti/ab] OR teen* [ti/ab] OR youth* [ti/ab]) AND (Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems [MeSH] OR Vaping [MeSH] OR "e-cig*" [ti/ab] OR ecig* [ti/ab] OR "electronic cigarette*" [ti/ab] OR vape [ti/ab] OR vapes [ti/ab] OR vaping* [ti/ab]) AND (Smoking Prevention [MeSH] OR Smoking Cessation [MeSH] OR "anti-smoking campaign*" [ti/ab] OR "antismoking campaign*" [ti/ab] OR "anti-vaping campaign*" [ti/ab] OR "antivaping campaign*" [ti/ab] OR "anti-smoking program*" [ti/ab]  OR "antismoking program*" [ti/ab]  OR "anti-vaping program*" [ti/ab] OR "antivaping program*" [ti/ab] OR "antivaping program*" [ti/ab] OR "smoking preven*" [ti/ab] OR "smoking cessat*" [ti/ab] "vaping preven*" OR [ti/ab] "vaping cessat*"OR [ti/ab])

What does [ti/ab] mean above?

To demonstrate the OR Boolean operator, a generalized syntax was used to demonstrate that keywords should be searched in targeted fields. "ti" is an abbreviation for title, and "ab" is an abbreviation for abstract. You must be mindful of what databases you use, and how you can select specific fields to search for your keywords in. This generalized syntax is loosely based off of Medline databases, and it further is used to demonstrate how subject headings, MeSH, and keywords search in different parts of the record.